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The Formalisation

As the piano and double bass brought the Wedding March to its conclusion, Peter joined Bonita on the dais, and stood with her as the Celebrant presented them to the gathering.

Celebrant:"Good afternoon, friends and relations of Peter and Bonita.

We are gathered together here, today, to support and bear witness to the contracting between these two, of a lifelong vow of joint loyalty, fidelity, sharing, mutual support and enduring affection and by our presence to show our acceptance of this new partnership where until recently we each only knew one or other of this happy pair.

If any of you think you know just cause why these two should not be lawfully wed, you are too late — they have both provided all the legally required proof of eligibility and they will entertain no late-breaking gossip. Nor will I.

These days, as I'm sure you all know, it's usual for a couple who are marrying to take an active role in the drafting of their ceremony, as Peter and Bonita have done. Neither of them is religious, but they both believe that the vows in the old Book of Common Prayer come pretty close to the mark as sound guidelines for a true-love pre-nup, and that if you stick by them there will never be need for more. So don't be too surprised if you detect echoes of an older order of service — it's not entirely accidental. Just one thing though - join with me in checking that Peter swears to obey — Bonita held out for that one, and eventually he gave way.

For all the humour that this couple brings to their relationship, and to its formalising and contracting, they both understand the seriousness of the step they are now taking together. Neither of them is entirely wet behind the ears, and by now they are old enough and silly enough, as Peter told me his father used to say, to know their own minds. And I am sure that they do.

Sometimes it is easy for a couple, under the pressure of a sudden love, to think they know what they want, and find later that they were wrong. Helping young couples think through such things is one of the responsibilities of those who do pre-nuptial counselling. But this couple is not so young, more mature in both years and common sense, though we all know that they are still very young at heart.

This, for them, is the same grand adventure — hand-in-hand into a happy unknown — that it would be, were they a generation younger. Their excitement, and their delight, is almost palpable. And you, who have known them so long, don't need to be told that they are loyal, kind, hard-working and responsible. All virtues. And that they are firm-minded — perhaps less of a virtue — I do hope they will be a little less stubborn with each other than they were with me when I was discussing today's arrangements with them. But I have to say: they did present a united front, so perhaps it needn't augur badly for them.

Therefore it is with considerable confidence in the outcome that I present Bonita Lorraine and Peter Collins to you for the formalisation of their vows and the execution of their contract and call upon them to make their vows to each other."

Peter: "I, Peter Leon,
do promise you,
Bonita Lorraine,
to be one with you, for ever forth,
where once we were in twain,

to love you, as you want it so,
and obey you, all your life,
to cleave to you, while e'r I breathe,
to be your man, with you as wife.

I will care for you, as for myself,
in sickness, or in health,
and share with you, all that I own,
in poverty, or wealth.

I give this ring, to make it so,
before all who're gathered here,
because, above all else,
I know that you are my Most Dear."

Bonita: "I, Bonita Lorraine,
to you Peter Leon,
will be your loving bride,
I promise you, throughout our days,
to stand close by your side,

to honour, comfort, love, obey,
whatever may befall,
and help you up, when you are down,
and share with you my all.

I'll be with you, and warm your days,
as you will warm my nights,
so both of us, with one accord,
will reach to greater heights.

I take your ring, and give you mine,
to plight our troths together,
for we will wife and husband be,
and I will love you ever.

The completion of the vows was followed by the exchange of rings.

Celebrant:"I now pronounce you man and wife.
Ray, would you please read the benediction, and then we will sign the papers."

Ray:"Go quietly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; for they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourselves with others you may become bitter or vain, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery; but let this not blind you to what virtue there is.

Be yourselves. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune, but do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline be gentle with yourselves. You are children of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here, and whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, be at peace with your soul. With all its shame, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy."

Then came the signing of the register. After we signed our documents, the signatures were witnessed by Bonita's close friend Ann Cook, the Matron of Honour, and Peter's close friend Ray Harlick, the Best Man.

For the music to accompany the signing, we chose the Louis Armstrong standard, "It's a Wonderful World"

... the Bride was given her ceremonial kiss,

then Peter swung her onto the dance floor at blurring speed.

When Cecily had completed the paper-work she too joined in the general dancing, which continued until the meal was ready.